The Malicious Wind is Live!

Ah, I am so excited to finally be able to share my novel with you all! It’s been a long time coming, but I can finally say that it’s officially done.

Here it is, guys: The Malicious Wind

Really, that’s it! That’s the link. The story is posted on a website that I’ve built myself. You don’t need to buy anything. Just read! No catch! Yay!

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What’s Next?

So I know it’s only been one week and three days since I released The Malicious Wind, but I think it’s good to let you all know what I’ll be up to for the rest of the year. I have been planning my next steps even before the release, so might as well share the plan, right?

Rest

Haha, yeah, you bet! Although it’s a little strange to finish work (my full-time job) and not immediately have to write, or draw, or code my website, I find the respite quite refreshing. I know I will get bored soon, but for now, I’m cherishing the hours after work, wondering what I should do next. Watch Netflix? YouTube? Read a book? Not like I couldn’t do these things before; only that I usually reserve them for when I’ve already worked a little bit on my novel.

I do plan to produce more artwork for The Malicious Wind over the next several months before I start writing again. I don’t think it’s a good strategy to post my story and never follow it up with anything. So you’ll be seeing a good amount of Sano and Anina soon.

That said, I do want to get back to fandom a little bit. The last book of my favourite series, The Queen’s Thief, will be released in October, and I still haven’t reread the previous book. It’s probably a good idea to reread all the books in the series, for that matter. And have you guys heard the news about Lockwood and Co.? Although I’m a little wary of live-action adaptations, I do adore the series, and I think it would be nice to revisit it again.

Tagalog Translation

It was always my intention to write a version of The Malicious Wind in Tagalog, but because I don’t have as much experience writing in my native language as I do with English, the English version naturally came first.

Lately, I’ve been working my way through this grammar workbook.

I’m not totally helpless when it comes to Tagalog. I speak it every day at home, I listen to a lot of Filipino music, and I can read books of modicum difficulty in the language. But just like English, simply speaking and reading don’t necessarily give you the equipment to write properly.

So my plan is to brush up on the fundamentals of the grammar, and then start translating The Malicious Wind. I might have some trouble with vocabulary, but worst case scenario, if I can’t find the proper word on my own, I can just ask my parents.

I’m hoping I can get a first draft of the Tagalog version around early fall of this year.

New Short Story

You guys know I love Sano and Anina a lot, and the more I work on their adventures, the more I love them. (To be honest, it took a long time for me to get to this point; at the beginning of my writing journey, it was very difficult for me to give Sano and Anina my attention when there were so many characters from other stories I loved even more.) But I think it’s healthy, and even necessary, to step away from a single project so you can come back to it with fresh eyes.

That’s why before jumping into Sano and Anina’s next adventure, I’m going to work on a different story. It’s definitely not as expansive as the idea behind The Malicious Wind. I’m thinking it would be around 30K words max. It’s a mix of sci-fi and fantasy, in the flavour of my Fullmetal Alchemist fanficiton, The Heist. The premise for this story has been lurking at the back of my mind for two years now, but lately, the idea just really took off, and I think it would be a good break from Sano’s world.

I don’t have an official description yet, but it’s set in a world where aswang are real. Aswang are a group of mythological creatures in Filipino culture who disguise themselves as humans, have dangerous abilities, and often harbour sinister intentions towards real humans (like eating them). My short story is about a humanoid A.I. who is being trained to identify aswang. She is given an assignment by an agency to classify a human whom it suspects to be an aswang in disguise, and in exchange for her successful classification, she will receive Human Status from the government.

So that’s the gist of it. I’m contemplating whether I should write this in an “adult” style or the MG/YA style I used for The Malicious Wind. It’s not going to have any mature content, but the programmer in me just wants to geek out about how technology and myth are interacting in this world.

If all goes smoothly (which it rarely does), I’m hoping to be able to share this short story early next year.


So, so, so those are my plans! It seems like a lot, but they will be stretched out over 7 months, so I don’t think it would be that bad. Besides, I have a lot more time to myself while we’re being asked to stay at home, so might as well take advantage of all that time, right?

Sano

To celebrate the release of my first webnovel The Malicious Wind, I want to dedicate a post to the main protagonist of the story, Sano!

I’ve been meaning to write this post for some time now, especially because Sano is the type of character that can pull through difficult challenges without losing his spirit. He’s someone that I personally find inspirational during these uncertain times.


Sano is a sixteen-year-old boy who grows up in a forest by the foothills with his mother. Because his mother is a practitioner of illegal magic, they keep mostly to themselves, avoiding all contact with other people unless those people intend to do business with them. Sano spends his idle time dreaming of venturing out into the real world.

One day, he ironically gets his wish — by becoming a wanted criminal. Sano is driven out of his isolation by warriors who intend to arrest him and bring him to the king for trial and execution. Sano flees from his home with the help of a girl, Anina, and they work together to evade the king while trying to reunite with his mother.

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March & April 2020 Books

Hey guys! I just realized that I didn’t do a book review for the month of March. It was just so crazy last month, I think we can all agree on that. I haven’t been able to keep up the reading pace I had set at the beginning of the year, unfortunately. With all that’s going on, I haven’t had a lot of reading mojo, sadly, but I do hope that I will soon find the right book to get absorbed in, and to help me through these uncertain times.

These are the books I managed to finish in the last two months.

The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas

I wanted something light and fun to read, so I picked up a couple of middle grade fantasy. The Magic Thief was one of them. It’s about an orphan who becomes a servant/apprentice to a mage at a time when the magic in the duchy is slowly disappearing. I liked that the main character was eager and positive, since I have been reading a lot of protagonists lately who are pessimistic and snarky. However, I think he also suffered from the know-it-all-newbie trope prevalent in many fantasy books, where someone who is new to a certain concept (ie. magic) somehow fixes all the problems with it, even better than those who have spent their whole lives studying it. I’m not defending ivory towers at all, and I do think that fresh ideas are usually required when it comes to problem solving, but I do find that some fantasy books take this to an extreme sometimes, especially when they don’t give a reason why that character is more likely to come up with just the right ideas.

The Castle Behind Thorns by Merrie Haskell

I love, love, love this book! It’s quiet and understated, definitely not the kind of action-packed adventure you usually find in MG. It’s about a boy, who wakes up in a sundered castle, trapped behind a wall of thorns, and a dead girl who comes back to life. They try to figure out how to escape from within while discovering the mysteries of the castle. The story is really about for forgiveness and healing, and it was just so beautifully told.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

I don’t usually read literary classics, but this was recommended to me by my manager. It was very difficult to get into this book. The first half was not written in linear order, and it was hard to grasp what the general thrust of the plot was. The first few chapters were painful for me to read, because I just couldn’t understand the purpose of the repetitiveness and contradictions (I mean, I know it was trying to show the stupidity of Catch-22s, but it felt extremely forced somehow). It wasn’t until the second half, and more like, the last quarter, that I actually started to enjoy it. I think it’s one of those books that gets better with re-reads, after you know where the earlier inside jokes come from, and you’re more familiar with the vibe of the book. But see, I’m not sure if I had enough of a positive experience with this novel to consider a reread.

My Editing Journey

Hi guys! Before I jump into the meat of this post, I’d like to say that I hope you are all doing okay. Wherever you are, I know there is a lot happening. No matter the degree of severity, we’re allowed to feel stressed and uncertain about our situation.

I’m probably one of the lucky few whose lifestyle wasn’t affected too much — the company I work for was able to transition smoothly to a full-time virtual environment, and all the things I love to do like reading, writing, and drawing, are things I can do at home. And yet, the past couple of weeks have been bone-wearying for me. Change is hard, even if only a few small things changed in my life. The constant barrage of tragic news makes it nearly impossible to enjoy the things I used to do, even at home. The conflicting reactions to stress creates tension in a household I can’t leave. One would think that with stay-at-home policies in place, I would find all the time I needed to really dive into the last stages of my writing. But the fact is that I’ve been wallowing a bit. I know, it’s not a good excuse, and I have resolved to do better.

I hope that wherever you are and however you are dealing with the pandemic, that you will stay safe and strong!


I will be writing the final draft of my story next month, and I thought it’s a good time to reflect on the journey that has brought me to this point. In the end, I will have a total of 7 drafts. A part of me feels that’s too few — I know that some writers go through dozens of drafts. But on the other hand, 7 drafts in 4 years feels like a lot, especially considering that I was doing all of this on the side.

Drafts 1 – 3

For the first couple of drafts, I was mostly concerned about the main plot of the story and the characterization of my protagonists. These first several drafts focused on getting all the pieces into place in a way that makes the most narrative sense. I didn’t worry much about grammar or style.

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New Header Image + Process

Last year, I started building a website for my novel (either to fully host it or to just be a hub of information), and I made a header that, in hindsight, I didn’t feel was strong enough to represent the story. So in the past few months, I’ve been working on a brand new header image.

The most challenging part for me was that, just like a book cover, my header image should showcase the concept of my novel in an effective way. I have to be able to convey the feel of the story, what it’s about, and other concepts that the reader can expect when they read my novel. I wasn’t used to thinking this way about art. As a hobbyist, I mostly dabbled in character sketches. Rare is an image I will make that even has a background on it.

But I wanted to make a really good header image. If I do end up hosting my novel on my own site, I can’t be driving away readers on the home page because I have an image that doesn’t capture anyone’s attention.

So last December, I started the ideation process. I went back to paper + pencil and sketched whatever ideas came to my mind. I thought about the most important aspects of my story, and how I can display them through an image.

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February 2020 Reads

Hi guys! Sad to say, but I didn’t finish any books in February. Rather shocking to me too, since I breezed through so many the month before. But here are the books I’m still working my way through.

May Tiktik sa Bubon, May Sigbin sa Silong

This is the Filipino anthology about aswang that I started back in January. I’ve finished several more short stories, and I am really enjoying them! The ones I’ve read so far weren’t really “horror.” They were more like slice-of-life type of stories about people who happen to be aswang or to know an aswang. I really love how immersive the stories are, how well they paint a picture of Filipino life even with the uncanny knitted into the stories.

Storm from the East

Guys, look, I have been waiting for this book to come out for almost a year, okay? To say that I loved Dark of the West is an understatement. I pre-ordered Storm from the East and pounced on it on the morning it was released.

The thing with this series though is that it is complex and heavy. It is about war, colonization, revenge, and other complicated subjects. I tend to have an almost black-and-white interpretation of war and colonization, as someone whose native country had been wrecked by both. Reading this book really stretches me, because both the protagonists are straining against colonization and war in a way that puts them exactly in the middle of those two things.

With that said, I had to put this book down for a bit, because I’m feeling a little pressured at work, and I realized I wanted something a little comfier to read.

By These Ten Bones

After asking around for some less intense book suggestions, I picked up By These Ten Bones. It is a younger YA novel that takes place in medieval Scotland, and tells the story of a young girl who falls in love with a werewolf. It’s definitely a simpler, almost-gentler story, and I’m about 80% of the way through with it. Enjoying this one too!

January 2020 Reads

Fiction

To start off the New Year, I picked up The Vengekeep Prophecies by Brian Farrey. I bought this a long time ago, but didn’t get around to reading it until now. I thought it had some very smart twists and a great world-building. I warmed up to the Grimjinx family instantly, and I was a little disappointed that for most of the book, we don’t actually get to see them operate as a team. I think that’s really the only issue I had with the story, and perhaps it was why I found the middle to ‘sag’ a little. It had an awesome ending though.

Sorcery of Thorns was such a joy to read. It’s the kind of cozy fantasy that was perfect to read on a winter’s afternoon. The characters were all lovable and the romance went at the perfectly right pace for me. The plot was amazing, full of twists and turns. And yes, I have to mention this, being such a big fan of Fullmetal Alchemist, but the plot is very similar to FMA. Not that it takes away any enjoyment. On the contrary, picking up on the similar plot lines made me more excited to see how things would turn out in this world.

Nonfiction

I’m not planning to be a manager any time soon, but I found Julie Zhuo’s The Making of a Manager very relevant to my current position at work. There’s a lot of advice she gives that also applies to managing yourself, if not a team. Reading this book made me feel more eager to do well at my job and to take my professional development into my own hands.

Mindset was mentioned in The Making of a Manager so I got curious about it and decided to pick it up. The important idea in the book is that having a growth mindset (ie. you can always improve) will make you more likely to succeed than having a fixed mindset (ie. you’re born a certain way, and there’s no way to change it). Unfortunately, after that idea is stated, the author repeats it over and over, and tries to shoehorn it to every situation possible. Basically, the idea was good, but the writing was not engaging at all.

What I’m reading right now

I started reading Soul Eater near the end of January, and I’m just breezing through the volumes. I’m on volume 3 now. I watched the anime version of this a few years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed it up until… the last five episodes or so. I heard that the anime diverges drastically from the manga at its conclusion, so I decided to read the manga to see how the story really ends. I have a long way to go, with 25 volumes in this series!

Last year when I visited the Philippines, I bought this book called May Tiktik sa Bubong, May Sigbin sa Silong (There’s a tiktik in the ceiling, and a sigbin down below). It’s an anthology about aswang, which is the umbrella term we use for some mythological creatures often found in horror stories. The reading level required for this book is a bit beyond me, but I am actually happy about that, because I feel like it will really improve my ability to read in Tagalog.

Kabi and Sano

I just sent the latest draft of my story for copyediting, so I’m now back to Art Mode!

Sometimes I forget that I have a character who raised a child for sixteen years entirely alone, by herself. I do actually have a lot of feelings about Kabi, and I have an entire backstory for her, but the novel never presented an opportunity for me to reveal much. Instead she comes off as this super capable, all-knowing character. Now that I’m pretty much wrapping up the novel, ideas for the next book are starting to pop up, and I’m hoping that I could flesh out Kabi’s character more there.

Anyway, we never get to see Kabi and Sano’s life in the forest, so I decided to draw a few snapshots. I have ideas for more, but let’s start off with these.